In re Centerpoint Energy Houston Electric, LLC (Plurality)Annotate this Case
The Supreme Court denied CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, LLC's petition for writ of mandamus in this negligence action, holding that the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) did not have exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate issues of duty and breach that underlay Plaintiffs' claims.
A good Samaritan was electrocuted in an attempt to help the victims of a wreck that downed a CenterPoint power line. The man's family and estate brought wrongful-death and survival claims against CenterPoint, alleging that CenterPoint had a duty to design, construct, operate, and maintain its electricity distribution system to de-energize portions of the distribution lines promptly when they experience faults. CenterPoint filed a plea to the jurisdiction, contending that the PUC's exclusive jurisdiction over an electric utility's rates, services, and operations extends to adjudicating whether its line-protection measures were lawful and complied with industry standards. The probate court denied CenterPoint's plea to the jurisdiction, after which CenterPoint filed a petition for writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that the PUC did not have exclusive jurisdiction over any issues underlying this common-law negligence dispute.